The power of people ….

It should be pretty evident that I’ve taken some time off … a lot of time actually.

I wasn’t sure how long I’d be away … I wasn’t even sure if I’d come back at all.

When I say “away”, I’m speaking mostly of my social media presence … posting here on and staying active on my Face Book pages. I even though about going away physically … packing up and moving. I just wanted to get away … to forget and leave the events of the last 3 months behind me. To start over somewhere new. It wouldn’t have worked and I knew it.

Instead, I dug a hole and crawled into it. I isolated myself from everyone…. at home and on the job.  Despite wanting to “put my boots back on”… (Read “A Firefighter’s Boots) I didn’t want to see or talk to anyone. I didn’t even respond to hundreds of e-mails / messages. That didn’t work either … holes are dark places and I was lost (Read “Positional Awareness …Where the Hell am I?”)

Looking back, I think I was just trying to avoid those awkward situations. Most people didn’t know what to say to me or how to say it. Many that tried would often say the wrong thing. Here’s some helpful hints …

“The 10 Best and Worst things to say to someone in grief” 

Yes, I’m still grieving but,  slowly and surely I’m climbing my way out of this hole.

It’s the “power of people”. You guys haven’t left my side. Even though I haven’t responded, the e-mails, letters, phone calls and messages keep coming in. You’ve stood by me with sympathy and support like I’ve never experienced. People like Peggy Sweeney (The Sweeney Alliance) and Shannon Pennington (Firefighter Veteran) have picked me up on a daily basis.

In the last two weeks, I’ve seen some daylight. I’ve been getting out and around other people some and it’s helping. I’ll share some of those events with ya in this post …

It started with 2 days of teaching our recruit Class #16.

I taught Fire Behavior and Control along with Salem Senior Firefighter / Medic Chris Smith aka.. “Smitty”.

That happened just at the time my wife had a lump removed from behind her breast (surgery went well … results are back and was not cancer). My mind really wasn’t focused on firefighting but it proved to be a welcome and needed “distraction”.

I seen a lot of potential in this group of recruits but it’s still early in their training and that have a way to go yet. They were attentive and seemed eager to learn. They asked several great questions and I think (hope) they all learned something over the 2 days I got to spend with them. They are lucky to have the caliber of instructors they have scheduled for their academy.  I reminded them that THEY asked to be here. I hope they WANT to. They were given the opportunity and now it’s up to them to prove they belong. It’s up to them to EARN that position … nobody will “give” it to them. It takes dedication and heart and we can’t teach either of them! Good luck to Recruit Class #16.

That weekend, our local Football team, The Roanoke Rampage; hosted Cincinnati here in Roanoke.

The Rampage play in the National Public Safety Football League. The teams are made up of Firefighters, Police Offices and EMS personnel.

All the teams are non-profit and play for various charities local to their perspective cities.

The Rampage won by a score of 20-2 and moved to 2-0 in their division. Their complete schedule can be found in the links above. Be sure to also check out the NPSFL site to find the team nearest you and lend your support. The next two game for the Rampage are away games but I’m hoping to attend at least one of them. Follow the Rampage on Face Book … click HERE !

We did a little pre-game tailgating for this one.

Of course we did it “” style and set the camper up.

Several folks made it by to share in the food, beverages and Brotherhood.

We even had a celebrity hang out for the day. Team Hunter was on hand and in full force. The Buckaroo and Hunter had as much fun (if not more) than most of the adults. If you’re not familiar with Team Hunter, check them out on Face Book by clicking HERE or the link above. Hunter’s a GREAT kid and your support has made (and continues to make) a difference in his life. Be sure to “Like” his page and send in a photo …. it really makes his day.

It was a great time and I really enjoyed seeing and talking to everyone who stopped by. Hunter’s dad, Baron; took hundreds of photos and I’ll try to get a few up on my Face Book page later on.

Click HERE to Follow on Face Book

I’ve had some more “people time” with friends back at the station as well.

You folks may remember or know Andrew Catron from blog The Model City Firefighter .

Andrew is a good friend and a Brother Firefighter from Kingsport Tenn. Andrew was one of the guys who went with me and Rhett to FDIC last year.  Andrew is one the guys who “gets it”. He’s very active in many aspects of the fire service and he’s making a positive impression on many of the people he’s reaching.

Beyond his Blog (linked above) and many other things, he is also very active with the National Firefighter’s Endowment. If you noticed the job shirt I was wearing in the second picture of this post, it’s from the NFE and Andrew was very instrumental in their development. Learn more about Andrew by clicking HERE and return the support by following his blog “The Model City Firefighter”. You can find / follow him on Face Book by clicking HERE .

Andrew and his family (Rachel and Issac) made a trip up to Roanoke to see the sites and check in on me and Rhett. I always tease Andrew by calling Rachel his “sister”…. I tell him there’s no other way a gal that pretty would hang out with him …. LOL.

He knows I’m just kidding but Rachel actually believed I though she was his sister for a while …LMAO.

Well, she’s prettier in person and Issac and me hit it off from minute one!

We had a GREAT visit. We hung out at station #13 for a while before heading down to Historic Station #1 and our Fallen Firefighter Memorial.

Later that evening, they visited the Mill Mountain Zoo / overlook before heading to Blacksburg for dinner with Andrew’s brother. I think and hope they had a good visit … I know I enjoyed it. You’ll be seeing more of Andrew soon as he will once again be traveling with us to FDIC in a few weeks.

Another good friend and Brother Firefighter stopped in later that evening as well.

Nate Camfiord took the time out of his busy schedule to check in on me. You guys may know Nate from his AWESOME photography. He was the one behind the camera for our Ironfiremen / Fire “Hey Brother” tee-shirt promotion. He’s also the Brother who started the “Boot” campaign in my healing process as well as many other projects including Team Hunter.

Nate will become even more well know and famous following FDIC this year as one of his photos will be on the cover of one of PennWell’s latest publications (more on this in a future post).

It was another great visit with many laughs shared. Be sure to click his name above as I linked it to his Face Book page … you’ll LOVE his photos!

Most recently, I’ve spent some time camping with friends. I’m ruined! LOL

On Friday, Kevin and I pulled the Buckaroo out of school early and headed to Claytor Lake to set up.

Later that day, Roanoke County Firefighter Brandon Sheppard (and his family) along with Radford Fire Department’s Henry Barnett (and his family) joined our group.

It was a GREAT weekend and very relaxing!!

Lazy days spent watching the Buckaroo and Hunter play while just taking it easy and enjoying where we were.

Walks through the woods …. to the lake, play ground and beach.

There’s just “something” about getting out and camping that’s refreshing.

Everything seems “better” when you’re camping.

Even the food. Yea …. that’s Brandon Sheppard cooking breakfast!

We’re going to be doing a LOT more camping this year… a LOT LOT more. Even if we just set up by the creek on the farm, we’re gonna be camping somewhere.

Of course it’s not all about “getting away” either.

Sometimes, as it was at Claytor Lake this weekend; it’s good to be around other people.

I still have my long johns on yet their were people laying out on the beach! Now that’s the kind of people I like to be around … the ones wearing bikinis!  LMAO

If you have a camper or tent and want to join (or invite) us for a camping trip, just hit me up. We’ll be somewhere pretty much every weekend and would love the company. You’ll have a BLAST!

So, thanks to EVERYONE for the continued support. It feels good to be getting out again and you’ll be seeing a lot more of me from this point on. Rhett and I have FDIC coming up in two weeks and I have a ton of other stuff to share as well. Keep checking back here and following on Face Book for all the details.

Until then, stay SAFE and in House!

Captain Wines